I have had a few celebrity clients over the years as an appraiser, and although I can’t discuss my own clients’ collections, Town and Country, Vanity Fair and Art Net News have reported on celebrity tastes this past month.
Netflix’s documentary series “Harry and Meghan” shows the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Archewell Foundation Offices in Montecito decorated with a copy of the 1836 “Portrait of Louise Mayer” by Ferdinand Georg Waldemuller. A beautiful young woman in a fabulous gown is seen blowing a huge pink bubblegum bubble.
The first couple of American pop music, Beyonce and Jay-Z, own works by Tracy Emin, Donald Judd and Ed Ruscha, all modern contemporary masters. Jay Z has worked with images by Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst on stage. In 2018, the couple shot a music video in the Lourve singing and dancing alongside the Venus de Milo, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Mona Lisa in the Denon Wing, David’s Oath of the Horati and his Madame Recamier, and Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa.
Leonardo DiCaprio is reported to be a regular at many International Art Fairs, and he is a generous donor of works of art he has owned to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
He studies art history, remaining true to his namesake. He is bringing Leonardo da Vinci to life in a biopic based on Walter Isaacson’s book. Sources say Leonardo DiCaprio collects surrealism and hyperrealism.
Barbra Streisand is a notable collector of American art and furniture. Rumor has it that at one time she had a wonderful Arts and Crafts collection, as well as American folk art and design. She began to collect American traditional painters after she was given a tour of the art in the White House by President Bill Clinton in 1992. She is generous to LACMA, where she was a trustee from 2007-2014. She donated an 8 foot-tall John Singer Sargent oil on canvas (1900) to the Los Angeles museum.
Sean Combs (or P-Diddy) set a world record for black artist Kerry James Marshall when in 2018 he made the winning bid at Sotheby’s for the artist’s “Past Times” (1997) at $21.1 million, the highest price paid up to that point for a living black artist.
P-Diddy’s friend Swiss Beatz (Kasseem Dean) and his wife Alicia Keys are super collectors in the contemporary art world. Mr. Dean bought 70 major works last year. He likes overscale contemporary sculpture, especially the work of KAWS.
An Instagram post shows the impresario and the artist on the feet of one such wooden carved KAWS work at 19 feet tall.
The Dean Collection Foundation supports the work of contemporary black artists. They own the largest collection of Gordon Parks photos in private hands, lately shown at the Fogg at Harvard. They own Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol.
Mr. Dean is on the board of the Brooklyn Museum and has never accepted money for any work he has deaccessioned, he accepts trades only. He is serious about artist’s rights.
Sir Elton John has a museum quality collection of major photography. Works by Cindy Sherman, Nan Goldin, Robert Mapplethorpe, Minor White, Irving Penn and Man Ray are on his walls. The Tate Modern borrowed his collection for their show “The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection.”
Cheech Marin is building a Riverside museum with California State funding of almost $10 million. The building will have a unique design and will house Mr. Marin’s collection of Chicano paintings, the largest in private hands.
Madonna? She collects nude portraiture, Frida Kahlo (The Tate has borrowed this artist from her), and Tamara de Lempicka. She loves Art Deco design in painting and in furniture.
Steve Martin, who has lived in Santa Barbara, sold a friend a Willem de Kooning painting in 1991 that sold recently for $68.9 million. You might say he has “an eye.” He also studies art history and wrote a great play, “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” (Picasso and Einstein meet at a French bar…) He is a fan of 1920s-40s Canadian painters and has donated millions to the Huntington to benefit the American Collection of Art. He is also a former trustee of LACMA.
Tennis star John McEnroe, who commissioned Andy Warhol to create a portrait of him and his wife (at the time Tatum O’Neal) in 1986 (in the Studio 54 days) has turned back to art. Mr. McEnroe currently owns a Manhattan-based art gallery. His works there have sold for more than $12 million per canvas.
If you’ve got it, flaunt it!
Dr. Elizabeth Stewart’s “Ask the Gold Digger” column appears Mondays in the News-Press.
Written after her father’s COVID-19 diagnosis, Dr. Stewart’s book “My Darlin’ Quarantine: Intimate Connections Created in Chaos” is a humorous collection of five “what-if” short stories that end in personal triumphs over present-day constrictions. It’s available at Chaucer’s in Santa Barbara.